Ultimate WordPress SEO Guide: Optimize Your Site in 2020

Want to learn how to optimize your site with WordPress SEO, but don’t know how to get started? 

We’re here to help you out! 

As one of the best SEO plugins, we know what it takes certain websites to rank better than the others on search results. In this post, you’ll learn the best WordPress SEO tips and tricks to optimize your website. 

Best of all, this guide covers all the details about WordPress SEO, step by step. 

Feel free to use our table of contents below to navigate through this jam-packed WordPress SEO guide. 

Let’s get started with the basics: what is SEO, and why is it important? 

What is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a practice of optimizing your web pages in order to drive free organic traffic from search engines like Google. With SEO, your goal is to follow WordPress SEO best practices on your site, so you can help search engines easily discover your content and display it in the search results.  

There are 3 things search engines do in order to find and display your content to its users: 

  • Crawling: Discover content on the internet by scanning each URL they find
  • Indexing: Organize the content they found during crawling, so they can quickly list it in search results for relevant queries
  • Ranking: Ordering the indexed content in search results such a way that the most relevant content appears at the top

On a daily basis, Google processes over 3.5 billion searches… Imagine how much more traffic you could get with a high ranking!  

To put it simply, SEO brings your website to life. Sure, it’s not an overnight strategy, but the results are worth it. 

Not to mention, there are guides out there (like this one) to jumpstart your WordPress SEO strategy. 

Getting the WordPress SEO Basics Down 

Before you get started, make sure your website is set up for SEO. The next 4 questions will kick everything into gear.  

Is Your Website Indexed? 

The first thing you need to do is to ensure your website can indexed by search engines. 

You can think of “index” as another word for database. When Google indexes a website, they input that site’s information into their database. 

If your website isn’t in their database, users won’t find your website over search. It’s critical to make sure your site is indexed. 

You can see if your site allows indexing on your WP dashboard. Head to Head to Settings » Reading on your dashboard. 

Uncheck the box next to Search engine visibility to allow indexing. 

Is Your Website WWW or non-WWW?  

Wait… you can choose if your website URL has WWW or not? 

That’s right. Your site address will look like one of the following: 

https://www.samplewebsite.com or http://samplewebsite.com 

Google will only identify one of these URLs as your website—you can’t choose both. 

On another note, there’s a lot of talk about which URL is better… Is WWW better than non-WWW? 

It doesn’t matter which one you choose. However, once you do, choose your site address, stick with it. Like we mentioned earlier, Google identifies one site address only. 

Fortunately, with WordPress, it’s easy to set your URL preference by naviagating to Settings » General. Then insert your preferred URL in both WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL). 

Are Your WordPress URLs SEO-friendly? 

An SEO-friendly URL looks something like below: 

http://www.example.com/how-to-make-a-website

This URL is short, organized, and easy to read. Search engines and online users can tell what this webpage is about—how to make a website. 

Unoptimized URLs, on the other hand, are disorganized and long. They usually include numbers, letters, and special characters. 

https://www.example.com/?p=10467X&UKEwiv9vuz1tXsAhU

To make sure your URLs are SEO friendly, head to Settings » Permalinks and Post name. 

This URL structure is SEO friendly in most cases, but it doesn’t apply to every website. 

For example, a news publication site might need a URL with the day and name. Or, a large site with hundreds of articles might need a custom structure. 

You can check out this article to find the best URL structure for your business.  

Is Your Website Secure? 

Website security has always been a top priority for Google. They also want to ensure that websites people access from Google are also secure and protect users’ privacy. 

And that’s why Google recommends implementing SSL / HTTPS on all websites. 

SSL is an industry standard security measure that creates an encrypted link between each visitor’s browser and your website. This adds an additional security layer to your WordPress site.

Once you install SSL on your site, a padlock sign will appear in the address bar, showing your visitors that they’re on a secure page. In addition, your website address will begin with HTTPS instead of just HTTP.

MonsterInsights, for example, has a lock next to their URL and an ‘s’ after HTTP. This means their site is encrypted. 

So, when an online user logs into your site or buys a product, the SSL certificate will better protect their information. 

You can get a free SSL certificate through a WordPress hosting site or WordPress SSL plugin. 

You can also check out this post to learn more about keeping WordPress secure

Use the Best WordPress SEO Plugin 

WordPress SEO can get overwhelming, especially in the beginning. Luckily, you can manage this strategy with a plugin. An SEO plugin helps optimize your site with user-friendly features.

So which SEO plugin should you use? 

Check out All in One SEO!

All in One SEO is the original SEO plugin for WordPress, which has been used over 2 million websites around the globe.

With All in One SEO, you can easily implement on page SEO optimization, like adding meta title and description. A few more benefits of the plugin are: 

  • Generate a sitemap automatically and generate it to popular search engines
  • Provide complete support for Google Knowledge Graph and Schema.org snippets
  • Easily implement Google AMP SEO
  • Add advanced eCommerce SEO support for WooCommerce
  • And more

Put simply, All in One SEO takes care of all the technical SEO optimization you need for your site.

Generate Your XML Sitemap 

An XML sitemap is a list of every important URL on your site. When you submit a sitemap, Google can understand and index your content. 

If you don’t upload an XML sitemap, Google will have trouble identifying your webpages. 

With All in One SEO, you can easily create your sitemap and send it to all popular search engines. To generate a sitemap, go to All in One SEO » Sitemaps

When you scroll down, you’ll notice a list of Sitemap settings. These settings let you choose what pages you’d like to add. 

Make sure to toggle on Enable Sitemap Indexes option. 

For more details, check out our article on XML sitemaps vs. All in One SEO

How to Optimize Your Blog Posts

Now that you know how to configure the basic WordPress SEO settings, it’s time to learn how to optimize your posts for SEO. 

Keyword Research 

Keyword research is a crucial part of SEO. It’s the practice of identifying the terms that people enter into search engines so you can use them in your posts. 

Keywords are an important Google ranking factor that determines whether or not your post show up in search results.  

So, how do you do keyword research? There are a lot of different factors to consider: 

Relevancy – Make sure to choose the keywords that are most relevant to the content you’re providing

High search volume – Choose the keywords that most people are likely to use 

Competition – Ideally, you need to use low competition keywords, so you can easily rank your content for them

We suggest using keyword search tools to find useful and high volume keywords for your audience. You can also read more about how to do keyword research. 

Add Internal Links 

Internal linking is simply linking one page to another page on your site. We call these links “internal” because they’re within your website. 

So why are internal links SEO friendly?

They keep readers interested –  When a user reads your blog post, they can click on an internal link to read another blog post, and so on. 

For example, let’s say you write a guide about plant health. You could add internal links to other posts about house plants, outdoor plants, and trees. 

A reader might think, “Wow! There’s so much information about plant health. I don’t need to go to another source, this website has everything I need.” 

When readers are engaged with your content, it can increase your authority and rankings.   

They improve site navigation – Internal links help your readers and Google navigate your site. Google, specifically, has an easier time identifying and ranking your posts for search. 

To add an internal link, head to your blog post. Highlight the word you want to link and click on the link icon. 

Type in a blog post you’d like to link and hit enter. 

Another way to improve blog post navigation is with anchor links. Anchor links let readers jump around your page. This is especially important for long articles. 

Anchor links are commonly used to link a table of contents to the post’s headings and subheadings. This post will teach you how to add anchor links.

Edit External Links 

It’s common to add external links within your content. Websites externally link to other sites for a few reasons: 

  • Research 
  • Affiliate partners 
  • Recommendations 

Linking to valuable sources can make your content more credible. But here’s the thing about external links. 

When search engines identify them on your website, they can pass some of your link authority over to those external links. 

With that said, when you link to an outside source and you don’t want to pass the link juice, then add nofollow. This tells Google, “This link isn’t affiliated with my website. Please don’t crawl this link.” 

You can add nofollow to your external links with All in One SEO. 

Head to your blog post editing page. Select the block containing your link and hit the link icon. Once you insert your external link, click Add “nofollow” link

Optimize Images 

While images are a great addition to your content, they can slow down your site. You can avoid this with compressed, high-quality images. 

When you compress a photo, it shrinks its image files without taking away the quality. We suggest compressing images before uploading them to WordPress. 

Along with compressing images, you should also add a title and alt text to photos. Alt text stands for “alternative text.” 

The alt text and title help Google understand what your images are. This is also a helpful tool for someone with vision loss. 

You can add alt text and a title to each image you upload to WordPress. 

Try to add alt text and a title to each image you upload. If it makes sense, you can add keywords to rank your photos. 

Add Categories and Tags 

Organized content is easy to navigate—categories and tags help with that. Before we explain how categories and tags affect SEO, let’s explain what they are. 

We’ll start with categories. Categories organize your posts by topic. For example, let’s say you own a Spain travel blog. 

Some categories you might have are: 

  • Spanish cuisine
  • Drinks
  • Sightseeing 
  • Getting around 

You can also think of categories as the chapters of a book—each chapter covers a broad topic. In WordPress, every post must be categorized, or else it’ll be labeled as “uncategorized.” 

Now let’s talk about tags. While categories group your blog posts into broad topics, tags describe each blog post with 1 or 2 keywords. 

Let’s go back to the Spain travel blog example. 

Some tags you might add to blog posts about “Sightseeing” are: 

  • Architecture 
  • Statues 
  • Nature 

See how these tags specify the category, sightseeing? So, if you write an article about Spain’s beaches, you would add “Sightseeing” as the category and “Nature” as the tag. 

So how do categories and tags improve WordPress SEO? 

Like internal links, categories and tags improve your site navigation. Readers and Google have an easier time going through your blog posts when they’re organized. 

You can optimize your categories and tags with MonsterInsights’ category and tag tracker. This tool analyzes which categories and tags get the most traffic. 

Don’t know how to add categories and tags to your post? You can read our guide: How WordPress Categories and Tags Work. 

Optimize for Search Results  

Now that your content is SEO-friendly, you can optimize it for search results. 

This is one of the best ways to improve clickthroughs of your content in the results, so you can possibly drive more traffic. 

From your post or page editor, scroll down until you see AIOSEO Settings. Enter the title of your blog post under Post Title. 

AIOSEO will calculate how long your title tag is. It shouldn’t be any longer than 60 characters. 

Next is your meta description. Your meta description summarizes your content on search engines. All in One SEO suggests keeping your meta description at 160 characters or less. 

Last are your keywords. When you enter your primary and secondary keywords, AIOSEO will evaluate how well they’re placed. 

It can also analyze your on-page SEO—content length, internal links, and external links are a few examples. 

Well, would you look at that…your content is officially WordPress SEO ready! 

Respond to Comments 

It’s always encouraging to receive comments from your readers…But sometimes it can get out of hand. 

First things first, get rid of spam comments. Spam comments take up space and add no value to your content. Plus, spam comments used to have bad links, which could sabotage your authority and negatively impacts SEO.  

A spam filtering service like Akismet will keep those comments out of your site. 

Whew, that was an easy fix. But here’s another problem you may come across—a LOT of comments. 

While blog post comments boost WordPress SEO (and make you feel good), they can also slow down your site speed. 

If this is the case, you’ll have to split your comments into different pages. This post will help you paginate comments, step by step. 

3 Bonus WordPress SEO Tips 

Want to learn even MORE about WordPress SEO? You’re in the right place. Here are 3 additional tips to boost your WordPress SEO. 

1. Analyze Your Site 

You won’t know how your WordPress SEO is doing without analyzing your site. You can target critical issues and warnings with AIOSEO’s site analysis feature. 

Under All in One SEO, click on SEO Analysis. 

From here, you can check your SEO site score. The general rule of thumb is to aim for a score of 60 and above. If you end up with a low score, then scroll down and look for the recommendation to improve your overall score and ranking. 

For example, from the above screenshot, it looks like this website is missing some critical areas of basic SEO. Now that we know these problems, we can fix them and raise our SEO score. 

On another note, you can also analyze competitor sites. Click on Analyze competitor site and enter their URL. 

From here, you can compare important metrics, like keywords and site loading time. 

Along with AIOSEO, you should also use Google Search Console and MonsterInsights to analyze organic traffic. 

You can learn more about using MonsterInsights with this guide: How to add Google Analytics the right way. 

2. Add Schema Markup

Schema markup is code that you put on your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users. With schema markup, you can add rich snippets to your search results, which could improve your organic traffic

For example… have you ever seen search results that look like this? 

Or maybe this? 

These are 2 examples of schema markup. Without a doubt, schema markup reveals more information about the page than a typical search snippet, which helps your business stand out from other search results and also boost organic traffic.  

To add schema, click on Search Appearance under All in One SEO

Then, scroll down to Schema Markup. 

Enter your business’ information to add schema markup on Google. If you’re a local business, you can add local schema with our local SEO feature.

3. Optimize Your Social Sharing 

You’ve probably shared a blog post on Twitter or Facebook at least once. When you share a blog post, something like below pops up. 

Notice how the headline, description, and featured image are ready to share? This didn’t happen by accident—Smash Balloon optimized their social settings. 

Optimizing your social settings does 2 things: 

It makes it easy to share – With everything ready to go, all users have to do is click “share.”    

Keywords and alt text – You can add your keywords and alt text to the image, title, and description for extra optimization. 

With AIOSEO, you can set up Facebook and Twitter sharing. On your blog post editing page, head back to AIOSEO settings and click on Social. 

social settings

As you scroll down, edit your title, description, and media. We recommend using relevant keywords and alt text to optimize the post. 

wordpress seo social settings

Now your blog post is ready for social sharing. You can add social sharing buttons to your blog with this post: How to add social share buttons. 

And that’s all! 

We hope this article helped you understand what WordPress SEO is and how to get started. Make sure to follow every step, and your WordPress SEO will be optimized in no time! 

Stay tuned for All in One SEO’s new features and improvements. And if you haven’t downloaded All in One SEO yet, what are you waiting for? 

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2 comments on “Ultimate WordPress SEO Guide: Optimize Your Site in 2020

  1. ” click Add “nofollow” link”.
    When I do that on my site than the All in One SEO plugin tells me to disable the No-follow on the links. What do I do? Add no-follow or not?

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